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Notes: Corbin showing toughness, elusiveness in year 2 at FSU

Jashaun Corbin has shown a willingness to fight for the tough yards, to pick up yards after contact and even break a few in the open field.

In his second year at FSU, Corbin is the offense’s difference maker — a productive tailback but also a spark with his lengthy touchdown runs.

“Unbelievable,” FSU offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham said. “That’s a guy, you can see his speed on the field. He’s deceptively fast. You don’t look at him and say, ‘That’s a guy who’s gonna run away from people.’ But he does. Look at the run he had, the burst, cut the inside shoulder of the safety at the second level, those are what create explosive plays. Making one guy miss. Jashaun has consistently made his one guy miss. And that’s why he’s had those explosive plays.”

Corbin’s long touchdown runs, 89 yards against Notre Dame and 75 yards vs. Louisville, have pushed his yards per carry to an absurd 9.15 that is among the top 6 in the FBS. But through four games, he has done more than just show an ability to break off long runs as he has 439 yards — already surpassing his total of 401 rushing yards last year on 81 carries. 

He is tied for 13th among FBS running backs in yards per game (109.75). But it’s also worth noting he has done it on just 48 carries, which is less than half of the rushes for the No. 10 back on the list, Minnesota’s Trey Potts (who has 474 rushing yards).

“This year, just being more comfortable further removed from the injury,” Corbin said. “Feeling more fresh, more confident in myself. Just do what I always do.”

He has three 100-yard rushing games (Notre Dame, Jacksonville State and Louisville) and Corbin as well as Treshaun Ward will have a big say in Saturday’s game against Syracuse, which has been stingy against the run. While the Seminoles have been inconsistent through the air, Corbin and Ward (35 carries, 219 yards, two TDs) have shown FSU can have an identity of establishing a strong ground attack as long as penalties don’t put the team in difficult down-and-distance situations.

Corbin is now an added year removed from a torn hamstring in Sept. 2019 that he suffered while at Texas A&M. He looks and feels like a completely different runner. 

“He’s gotten stronger,” FSU running backs coach David Johnson said. “He’s changed his body. His knowledge of the game too and his understanding of our offense. He’s more confident. He is playing, he’s having fun, which is really good, he’s not thinking about the injury or anything like that.”

The lineage creates a tough comparison and conversation point when discussing FSU running backs. There’s a rich history of 1,000-yard runners like Larry Key, Mark Lyles, Greg Allen and Sammie Smith to Warrick Dunn as well as recent runners like Devonta Freeman, Dalvin Cook and Cam Akers. Corbin isn’t nearly there yet but his big plays have put him in exclusive company: He joins Cook (2015), Chris Thompson (2010) and Smith (1987) as the only players in FSU history with a pair of 75-plus yard runs in a season.

FSU coach Mike Norvell said Corbin has shown not just vision but a better understanding of what he can do in the open field, noting that he delayed the cutback on the safety against Louisville when a year ago he would have made the move far earlier and been tackled.

“A year ago, and he would get an open field and you know there were times that he would be seven, eight yards from the safety and start making a cut,” Norvell said. “And the safety had maybe enough time to get a hand on it.”

Part of that Corbin attributes to watching video cut-ups of opposing defenders during the week, seeing tendencies in what angles they take and how they tackle.

Even with injuries on the offensive line, with Robert Scott and Maurice Smith missing games, FSU’s run game has been productive. It has also been a stark difference in a year ago in how the Seminoles are moving the ball on the ground — Jordan Travis was FSU’s top rusher in 2020 with 559 yards and this year he has just 32 rushing yards.

Corbin and Ward have proven to be a tough 1-2 punch. Coaches have at times used Lawrance Toafili and D.J. Williams played his first game at FSU on Saturday, picking up 16 yards on four carries.

“It’s a real tight-knit group,” Corbin said. “We’re happy for each other more than our own success. I think that helps when it comes down to the games.”

On the recruiting front

Coach Mike Norvell’s passionate speech about his message to 2022 commits, as well as undeclared prospects, resonated on social media and message boards with fans. Johnson, who is also FSU’s recruiting coordinator, said Norvell doesn’t “sugarcoat” what’s going on with the program when he talks to recruits.

“We’re looking for guys who want to come in and make a difference,” Johnson said. “We’re looking for Day 1 players to come in to help us out. We know what situation we have right now. We’re not hiding anything. It is what it is. The biggest thing about us, we live in vision and not in circumstance. It is what it is and we’re going to move forward.”

The Osceola also caught up with a few 2022 commits who have said they are locked in to FSU and to helping turn the program around.

Sheffield to transfer

Backup tailback Deonte Sheffield announced Tuesday on Twitter that he would transfer. Sheffield began his career as a walk-on, was later awarded a scholarship but has not had a carry this season. He had 28 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown in his FSU career.